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Editorial – November 2019: Little deluded universes everywhere.

November 3, 2019 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

In past editorials I’ve discussed the concept of we all live in mini-universes where we meet each other and share information and concepts and shape our perceptions. The reality we have around us is built on that. In this mix we have genius thoughts where, despite opposition, convince others that they are finally right and shape how we look at reality. Equally, we can also have people who have things totally wrong doing the same thing. We share a confused and bewildered set of mini-universes.

In recent weeks, on live TV, I’ve seen some very odd delusional information. I’ll generalise a bit because we’re read world-wide and it would be unlikely that everyone would have access to UK television. Although it was obvious from the presenter on a live TV programme he knew the middle-aged woman was wrong, he was too polite to correct an error that the Queen ruled Great Britain when we have a parliamentary rule for a few centuries now. Have we taken politeness too far or allow people to live in their own delusions and not correct errors?

Of course, the voice in his ear might also be saying it would take far too long to convince her otherwise on a live show with precious limited time and just move on. This wasn’t someone dispersing false information but misinformation they believed and no one had ever bothered to correct and I doubt the lady used the Internet.

Both ways could have the same result and there’s no telling which is worse. Well, maybe false information could be corrected but it should be a concern to all of us that people get some odd concepts of how the world is run that certainly doesn’t match recorded knowledge. I could understand this happening with a younger generation and poor education standards but it’s almost beginning to feel like it’s an invasion. The power of belief can be as strong as truth and can be as hard to dissuade.

It’s very hard to convince people with delusional ideas that they are wrong without a heated argument or strong counter-argument. I can also understand why should they bother. It’ll get to a standoff and unlikely to change anything unless you can overcome their logic without having the necessary books to hand. If the delusion extends to believing all written information by experts in the field is wrong then we have something at the scale of a certain orange president who doesn’t even have a record for reading anything entirely.

It’s beginning to feel like a medical condition. Worse, for we storywriters, if we created characters like them, we would be thought to be creating unrealistic people instead of what is actually out there. Yet, oddly, it is a prevalent human condition and as writers we should be looking at all types of people, even if they are put through out as our own mindsets. I’m probably as guilty as anyone by staying within a certain range of character types. If we did use them, I suspect they would be used for ridicule than correct. If such people are treated as laughing stock then it’s inevitable that they will dig their heels and refuse to budge on their beliefs. Worse, they tend to think we’re the ones who are deluded.

Of course, you do have to wonder what is at fault here? Poor education? Believing poor information? The Internet is also seen as a purveyor of fake information but any source could get a similar categorisation. Oddly, this one didn’t seem to be any of these. Delusional is often seen as being a problem with mental health but people can seem quite normal otherwise. Fixation is obsession after all.

This goes back to each of us being mini-universes making sense of other mini-universes out there or just ignoring anything that doesn’t fit their world map. If nothing interferes with how you see the world or reality, then you assume it’s true. Putting a symbol on a misty window to keep elephants away works as long as there are no elephants nearby. Don’t try that in Africa or India by the way. Oddly this isn’t even new. Look at how mythologies and religions developed and were maintained. No one wanted to change the status quo and when they eventually did, the believers had to be brought in screaming to the changes or wait until they died out and a new generation were inclined to believe evidence.

Worse, as with science, the philosophers, before they were called scientists, were frequently executed to maintain the original beliefs than accept new viable proof. At least science is seen as the backbone of many societies today and something is tested today than dismissed out of hand today. The ‘many’ is still a worry with the rise of different religious faiths. Even so, even some old scientists were prone not to examine new ideas because it interfered with their own standing. Rather scarily, there are still many countries or cultures who are in fear of their religions and trust that more than science.

We seem prone not to like change. Don’t think even I’m immune as I found when I had updated blood testing equipment for my diabetes over a year ago although I quickly adapted. If something works, why fix it? World models are still parts of each of your mini-universes. To remind you of the General Semantics principle, ‘the map is not the territory, only a representation’.

I do think that we should question our own beliefs from time to time and challenge how correct they are subject to new information. Then there is the problem of whether the new information is correct or not. Things are thrown by all manner of things, especially with foods, that have been revised as to being healthy or not. In many respects, we all know too much of anything is unhealthy, especially fats and sugars, although fast food companies don’t go in for limiting this and just go for quantity.

This came from an old belief that people will only have such a meal once in a blue moon not on a regular basis and then obesity becomes a problem. It’s not hard to imagine some people questioning all scientific dogma when some of it can be changed by wrong interpretation or not enough long-term information.

It’s like watching grass grow. You notice the initial growth and then only fret when it’s reaching the door that it might be too long. You accept it is there until the size is radical enough to bring it to your attention. Does that draw any similarities to climate change or environmental damage? Even in my youth, scientists were warning of such dangers and it’s only recently that it finally sunk in world-wide and turned from a marathon to find alternative solutions to a sprint to get things done now as quickly as possible.

The scientist in me tends to think we could still make mistakes and need to take human behaviour into account. Demonstrations might get attention but they can also be counter-productive. Everyone needs to know that we have all contributed to the current mess this little planet of ours has gotten into.

Being aware of what is around you and finding ways to reduce damage to the environment can be done at many levels from individual to group to nation to world-wide.

Believing in what people say should be compared to proof or evidence of what they’ve done is a necessary thing. To just rely on what they say is not enough. Yet so many rely solely on faith than evidence and don’t believe they be exploited and manipulated. A consequence of thinking that they can’t be controlled when really it is all too obvious that we can be. No one likes to think they are gullible and even hide the fact when they realise they’ve been caught out. Con artists rely on this all the time.

So, too, can some politicians and many from various walks of life if they are to get people to do what they say. Again, this is part of the human condition. It is strength of will that makes the difference but even in a world of strong-willed people there will always be some with weak-willed who will doubt even proven evidence. Too many strong-willed can still create chaos because few will believe in the same things.

This doesn’t mean all changes are good but they do need to be checked for their merits than imposed simply because they can.

Thank you, take care, good night and welcome to my mini-universe and don’t be afraid to tell people when they are wrong and give or show them the proof of the right information. But be nice, shouting them doesn’t always work.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: The democratic right to vote only works as a collective.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: The ability to wade through the mini-universes and hope someone listens to their own.

The Reveal: Humans are supposed to be sentient but who really tests this?

Observation: With the 1960s TV series ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘Dead Man’s Treasure’, the wounded courier Danvers breaks into Benstead’s house, hides a secret file in a treasure box and addresses an invite card to a rally treasure hunt to John Steed. So far, so good. We don’t see the card being posted so there is a choice that it was the butler Bates first thing in the morning or Danvers finding a post-box when he drives off. He’s about 4 hours later when he finally arrives and dies at Steed’s flat. A few hours later, one should assume this would be around 11am which was second post back then, the card arrived. I know our Post Office was fast in those days but even special delivery wasn’t that fast.

Observation: Channel 81 in the UK has been showing a particular Edgar Wallace story ‘Crossroads Of Crime’ (1960) recently. It was made by AP Productions and directed by Gerry Anderson, even if he called it a film when really it as a TV episode, and you can have a field day recognising the various names in production, not to mention seeing actor David Graham in a co-starring role. What makes it particularly interesting is one of the roads shown at the end was also used about ten years later in UFO’s episode ‘The Psycho-Bombs’.

Observation: Here’s something else from 1960s ‘The Avengers’ phase last month, here’s something else to ponder on. In the episode ‘False Witness’, Mother (actor Patrick Newell) is on the top floor of a double-decker bus. As Mother is an invalid and can’t walk, there is a little matter of how he got there. More so, as there also seems to be a little matter of no toilets there as well and considering the amount he drinks he must have wanted to pee occasionally at the least. One can only presume that there is some access door to something bigger for Mother to get off the bus that we never see.

Observation: Have you ever noticed how the Terminators all have perfect and complete sets of teeth? Now unless there is a dental practice in the future, none of the human survivors are likely to have a decent set of nashers, let alone veneers, implants or even dentures. Therefore, the quickest way to identify a covert Terminator is to examine their teeth than rely on a dog giving you a quick sniff.

Observation: Going back to the 1960s again, ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘The Rotters’, a fast form of dry rot is capable of destroying wood, so why is it the paper contents of a bureau was left unscathed?

Feeling Stressed: Seems that is the way of the inhabitants of this world these days so you’re not alone.

Submissions:-

I did think that having a lot of text about submitting material to SFCrowsnest would attract those with a compulsion to read and understand things the geek way. The main problem with the Internet is that it tends to encourage less reading, so time to take a different approach. The original notes will be left on July2009 editorial although the links aren’t likely to work.

With your cover email, tell me something about yourself so I don’t work in a vacuum. The boss in the tower, also called Stephen Hunt, describes me as a ‘Dutch Uncle’ in that I’m good with advice and can explain when I see something that is wrong. Egos should be left at the door as I’m only interested in your talent and how to improve it.

Reviews:-

I always have a clarion call for new reviewers and if you have the yen to learn, you’ll quickly get the ropes if you’re never done it before but you must show me a sample, especially if you can follow my guidelines. We can usually get paper-based books in the UK but if you live abroad, then you might have to stick with ebooks. If you’ve picked a book we haven’t reviewed, then it stands a better chance of being used so use the SFC search engine to see first but I need to see how you would write for us.

The obvious qualification is a desire to read regularly and like to tell others about the book without giving away too many spoilers. The benefit is access to free books for the price of a review.

I want to give you the opportunity to get things right so look up the Review Guidelines link: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-want-to-write-reviews-for-sfcrowsnest-what-you-need-to-know-by-geoff-willmetts/

Fiction:-

Although we can’t pay for submissions, what we do make up for is exposure. Only the Sci-Fi Channel gets more hits than us so it’s worthwhile getting us on your writer’s CV. Please avoid samplings from book’s you might be writing or have had in print elsewhere as I do check. New original work is best and whether I accept or reject, you will be told of any problems I see so you look your best and a grammar check that is equal to the pro-world. Even the boss finds me scarily accurate.

Flash or One-Page Fiction:-

Speaks for itself. The shortest fiction possible is also the toughest to write as no word must be wasted.

Link here for details: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/one-page-stories-or-flash-fiction-submissions-instructions-by-gf-willmetts/

Short Stories:-

The definition of a short story is anything up to 30 pages and then it becomes a novella. Bear in mind you want other people to read it on-line, stay somewhere between 5-20 pages. At least digitally, you don’t have to go double-line as HTML will do that automatically but think about being concise. If you want to send an attachment with these, then ask first and send as a TXT file as it removes most tetchy virus codes.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-really-want-to-write-an-sf-story-an-update-by-gf-willmetts/

Finally:-

The worse problem I see any samples is poor grammar. Although I don’t want you to think I seek perfection, the less work I have to do, the easier it is to focus on other problems you might have. It will also serve you in good stead if you ever approach paper-based publishers because they will send back any bad grammar samples because it’s not worth their time.

Good grammar is the tool of any writer. Don’t just depend on what you remember doing at school. There are plenty of decent grammar books out there, so remind yourself of the rules. If you think there are far too many to remember, get the major ones right before moving to the next so it becomes second nature.

This link, www.sfcrowsnest.info/the-guide-to-better-grammar-from-the-harrowed-hand-of-gf-willmetts/ will show you the common problems.

To submit, use our email address by joining the spaces as shown here: letters @ SFcrowsnest.info and use the subject matter as to what you’re submitting.

Comments directly to reviews should still work as before.

Good luck

Geoff

 

 

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Category: Culture

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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